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How does Stress affect Dental Health?

The COVID pandemic has affected everyone’s well-being, physically and mentally, increasing our overall stress levels. It is no secret that negative stress affects our health, including our dental health. 

This new unprecedented, foundational level of stress has direct effects on our bodies’ healing, whether from an injury, surgery or dental treatment. Stress produces the well-known fight or flight responses affecting our cortisol levels, the chemical that prepares us to run away. Fats and sugars are released into our bloodstream to give us energy but reduce our immune system’s efficiency. 

With time, these chemicals have damaging effects on your body, working against you to make your immune system work less efficiently and wreak havoc on your body’s ability to heal. 


Though many factors determine how quickly you heal, including your physical condition, immune system and pre-existing conditions, stress is a major contributor. The impact of chronic stress on wound healing is significant. The chemical process needed for healing is interrupted. The body’s overproduction of cortisol interferes with the production of anti-inflammatory substances called cytokines. The result is that your ‘injured” area remains inflamed and slow to heal. 


As pain is also a stressor, it can also affect your ability to heal quickly. Generally, the greater level of pain, the slower you are to heal. When healing is interrupted or prolonged, infection has a higher chance of setting into the affected area.


 Kesteven Dental Care Alleviates your Stress

At our dental office in Mission, BC, your oral health is paramount. Striving to create a welcoming atmosphere while providing your dental services, we offer:

  • A soothing waterfall in the reception area
  • Warm blankets during treatment(if desired)
  • Consultation for any questions, concerns or fears you may have regarding treatment, or dental insurance, pain and infection control
  • Refreshing towelettes after your treatment


What You Can Do

Being proactive by reducing stress daily can, not only decrease your healing time, but also prevent a chronic stress situation. Here are a few easy suggestions on self-care:

  • Take a breath-not just a cliché. Sit up straight, allowing your body to benefit from an unencumbered airway; slow your breath in and out for approximately five minutes. Deep breathing alleviates stress by oxygenating your blood.
  • Find your earbuds and listen to relaxing music. 
  • Call a friend and talk about your challenges will help decrease the stress you feel.
  • Laugh! Laughter releases endorphins, improving your mood. It is hard to find anything to laugh about some days, so keep your favorite movie or book on hand.
  • Exercise. Any exercise will also increase your endorphins, get your blood moving and decrease your stress level. Take the stairs instead of the elevator.  
  • Mindful Meditation

Managing your stress will enhance healing, keeping your immune system healthy facilitating any recovery required from dental treatment.

By Lori Kesteven